January 24, 2011
I recently purchased a book entitled The Christian Atheist at a local Christian bookstore. Aside from the bright red cover that caught my eye, its title sparked curiosity in my mind.
The Christian Atheist
In churches today, people always talk about Christians and non-Christians but never about the people in between – the people who believe in God but live like He’s not there, He doesn’t care or He doesn’t matter. In this book, Pastor Craig Groeschel tackles simple yet significant issues and commands that are often overlooked and disregarded by many believers including himself. He shares his struggles honestly especially when his life doesn’t match up with the Scriptures.
Believing in God but living as if He doesn’t exist
Many of us fall into the trap of complacency, thinking that mere belief in God is enough. For some, they can’t understand or are not convinced that God could love a person who has done so many bad things in the past. Maybe for others, they find it hard to forgive or trust God for provisions. But most of the time, we know what we should do but we fail to do so simply because we don’t think it is that big of a deal to share the gospel, to pray, to read the bible or to go to church. Whatever your struggles are, this book encourages us that we are not alone. Even the church leaders like the apostle Paul experienced it. He said in Romans 7 that the things he wanted to do, he didn’t do and the things he didn’t want to do, he did. As Christians, we want to live righteously but there are just so many temptations and distractions. Sometimes we feel the Holy Spirit convicting us yet we refuse to allow Him to move and change us.
Craig’s transparency and willingness to open up about his own struggles in forgiveness, worry, guilt, stewardship, evangelism and other issues, convicts and challenges us to not only think but also act on how to realign our behavior with our beliefs. He provides practical insights on how we can start living with God being the center of our lives.
What I appreciate about this book is that Craig goes in depth in explaining the roots of Christian Atheism. Most of the time we don’t even realize that our views have become distorted already; or if we do realize it, we find it difficult to stop living the way we do. One of the lessons that struck me the most is the pursuit of happiness at any cost. I use to believe that if it makes me happy or makes me feel good, then it must be the right thing to do. Craig explains that we often misinterpret that God’s ultimate plan for us is happiness. He straightens our distorted thinking by explaining that God doesn’t want us to be happy especially if it causes us to sin.
Truth is, the happiness we find in this world can never satisfy us nor do our longings ever end. It is until we understand that only God can satisfy us, that we can let go of our pursuit for worldly happiness and start pursuing godliness. Other lessons that struck me are our responsibility to spread the gospel, to become good stewards of God’s blessings and to stop worrying all the time. These are teachings and commands we often think we can get away with. Craig explains further in the book why we’re afraid to share our faith, why we trust in money and why we worry all the time. I believe that understanding is the key. Once we fully understand the human nature and really know who God is, the easier for us to accept and start the journey towards holiness. Craig gets down to the basics of God’s character because not until we truly know who He is and what He did, can we put our faith and trust in Him. We have to acknowledge that we cannot truly change without God. This book is a testimony of who God is and how He works in people’s lives.
In the final chapter, Craig tells a story about Charles Blondin. He was a world-renowned tightrope artist and acrobat. On June 30, 1859, he was the first person to cross the Niagara Falls by tightrope. In the years to come, the daring entertainer crossed again and again: on stilts, in a sack, even pushing a wheelbarrow. The story goes that an exuberant onlooker called out, “You could cross with a man in that wheelbarrow!” Blondin agreed and invited the man to climb in. The spectator nervously declined.
Our dysfunctional relationship with God is often like that, isn’t it? Many of us believe in God but just not enough to trust him with our whole life in His wheelbarrow. If you long to learn to know and walk with God more intimately, then this book is for you. It can change your heart, mind and soul just as it had changed mine.